How to describe the enviable experience of drinking beer out of a boot? Not any boot, mind you, I’m talking about a glass boot that’s literally filled to the brim with beer. How does one describe that? Well… the word unique comes to mind. And if you’re doing it all by yourself, so does challenging! Fun might come in a close third. We’re talking a lot of beer, and getting at the last of it requires some dexterity, which is hard since that’s when you’re tipsiest. But I digress…
According to legend, the tradition of drinking beer out of a boot goes back to 16th century Germany, where students enjoyed having a few beers, then dueling it out! As midnight neared, duelers laid down their swords and filled their boots with their favorite lagers. This is where the term “fill your boots!” became a popular saying, which loosely translates to “help yourself”.
Naturally, it wasn’t long before health-conscious craftsmen began to develop boots made of glass specifically for this challenge. Then, whenever young men felt like a challenge, they could ask for the boot to be filled and demonstrate their drinking prowess by drinking it down without spillage or vomiting. Apparently, drinking the incorrect way would result in having to “wear the boot home”… Ouch!
To my knowledge, there are only two places on Vancouver Island, possibly even in BC, that carry on this venerated tradition. The first is the Rathskeller Schnitzel Haus, located right in the heart of downtown Victoria. Here, beer can be enjoyed in a 2 liter boot, 1 liter boot, or the personal .5 liter boot. And of course, drinkers can treat themselves to anything on tap, which includes Hackser-Schorr, Warsteiner, Holsten Lager, Festbock and Maibock, Spatenbrau Heffeweizen, Spatenbrau Oktoberfest (available only in the fall), Schneider-Weisse, and Konig Ludwig.
The second is located at the Rim Rock Brewpub in Port Alberni, at the cross-roads of Vancouver Island. A relatively new operation, the Rim Rock has the added distinction of being attached to Nanaimo’s Longwood Brewpub, one of my personal favorites. Here they have the wort for their beer brewed, which is then transported to the pub in Port Alberni where it is fermented. Thus far, they have a lager and a pale ale on tap, both of which can be served in the boot!
Needless to say, I am eager to find more places that can provide this service to the thirsty beer snob! And I’m not much concerned if this journey should take me out of town, out of province, or out of country. There are more out there, I know it. Bavaria and Oktoberfest-themed restaurants can’t be the only places where this still goes on